BrexitAug 21 2017

Employers use Brexit as excuse to freeze pay

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Employers use Brexit as excuse to freeze pay

Employers are using Brexit as an excuse to freeze pay, according to workplace representatives of union Unite.

The group said it is collating reports to understand how Brexit is affecting workers, developing a database of responses from 22,000 workplace representatives.

 As well as using Brexit to freeze pay or force through below-inflation pay rises, reps said that several companies have used the prospect of Brexit to avoid paying annual holiday pay (which includes overtime pay) as it relates to the European Union Working Time Directives. 

In June Unite won an employment tribunal against a major cleaning and services company that had failed to incorporate voluntary overtime into workers’ holiday pay. A major utility company has taken a similar position and this remains unresolved, the group said.

Unite said that its representatives believe that the two biggest issues that are Brexit-related are pay talks, where 48 per cent said that Brexit was a factor, and and concerns that their workplace is reliant on freedom of movement, which 42 per cent cited as an issue.

Other issues blamed on Brexit, reported by Unite reps include: threats to pension schemes, reduction in trade union facility times and attempts to block reps sitting on European Work Councils.

In several cases the Unite reps also reported that the employer had cancelled or postponed new investment and in other cases there has been a threat to relocate jobs, often overseas.

“Unite is putting employers on notice, they need to realise that if they use Brexit as an excuse for attacking workers’ pay and conditions, we will challenge and expose them," Unite general secretary Len McCluskey, said.

"We are already beginning to see a clear pattern that employers are already opportunistically using Brexit as an excuse to attack the terms and conditions of workers.”